Yesterday over lunch a few of us wrestled with, in a Harry Potter-like world, which of five magical powers we would like to have. Given the choices of super strength, invisibility, telepathy, shape shifting, or the ability to communicate with animals, I naturally chose super strength or telepathy (think Luke Cage or Charles Xavier).

Later yesterday evening as I sat in a Starbucks thinking through Frederick Douglass’ piece No Struggle No Progress for WBEZ’s community discussion series next week, I found myself reflecting back on my lunch hour conversation concerning which power I’d like to have. While I’m sure Frederick Douglass’ intent wasn’t to invoke my youthful yearnings to be Luke Cage, it was interesting to think through how I conceptualize power and community action.

I guess that brings me to my larger point: Each of us already possesses an incredible power, the power to change the world in countless immeasurable ways. Every day presents an opportunity to make a positive change in the world. In honor of those opportunities, every year communities and organizations all over the country celebrate Make a Difference Day.  This special day celebrates the power and awesomeness of connecting people with opportunities to serve in order to increase the strength of communities and promote civic engagement.

In Chicago, you can celebrate Make a Difference Day on October 27 by volunteering your time at one of Chicago Cares’ projects throughout the city. And while Make a Difference Day only lasts a single day, our power to make a difference is always there. We can make a difference every day, whether it’s smiling at a youth on their way to school or volunteering at a Chicago Cares project. So I challenge you to continue making a difference far beyond this weekend. I challenge you to spend at least the next few weeks making a difference whenever you can.

Here are a few areas where you can Make a Difference!

Education: Join children build reading confidence, create fun art projects, and build excitement about learning at Read-with-Me at Brunson.

New readers are so excited to learn! Join these little readers at Story Time at CYP where you’ll help them learn about letters, sounds, songs and more! Art and Games at San Jose Obrero Mission is excited about November and ready to celebrate thanks! Work with young children as they create exciting art projects to share their thanks and decorate their homes.

Hunger and Homelessness: Lunch at Breakthrough Ministries, a housing facility that provides social services to men and women who are working to get back on their feet. You can also re-purpose old plastic grocery bags into sleeping mats for those in need with New Life for Old Bags.

Health and Wellness:  Share your love of fall vegetables at Young Chefs at Young School, where you’ll teach kids about healthy fall vegetables and tasty treats.

Environment: Winter is coming, which means that many of our environmental projects need your help to get ready for the change of seasons! Volunteers at Nature Area Restoration – Rainbow Beach Dunes will be finishing up the season by planting native species throughout the dunes.

Senior Services: Totally Trivia at The Imperial– Enjoy this lively game of trivia with a group of nursing home residents!  Volunteers will work with residents and they play for prizes and bragging rights! Give seniors their voice at this project at   What’s the Word.  Work with a group of nursing home residents as they assemble their quarterly newsletter!

We hope to see you this Saturday as we all work together to Make a Difference in Chicago!

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